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“Why We Participated in the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative Sponsored Deafening Silence Film” – Nollywood Stars

Some of the Nollywood artists who starred in the soon to be released full-length film titled “Deafening Silence” have opened up to why they participated in playing their roles in the film. These Nollywood leading lights stormed the venue of the United  Nations Headquarters, Abuja, to unveil a fascinating, instructive, and trailblazing TRAILER of the Gender-Based Violence (GBV) Film.

Daniel Etim Effiong, one of the Nollywood stars, expressed satisfaction for the opportunity to be part of the cast in the film. “I stand against the plight of women all the time. In our society women are marginalised in several ways and maltreated in manners that are despicable. In this film I played the role of a bad boy and a villain, even though, in real life, I am a good guy – and in support of women. When I got the opportunity to be part of the cast I was happy because I knew it will hep me to contribute to the cause of women emancipation.”

According to Toni Tokan, another strong cast in the film, “I have experienced Gender-Based Violence directly or indirectly. It is very common in our society and it comes in diverse ways – abuse, rape, physical violence, etc. I know that DBV is harmful and unwanted in our society. This is why I feel good that I am part of this team that fights against the scourge through this film.” Pere Ebi affirms Toni’s position that we all, somehow, know someone who has suffered DBV in our families or in our circle. “I am excited to be part of the team that is fighting against it through this film.”

The Film directed by BIODUN STEPHEN is a Joint EU-UN SPORTLIGHT Initiative in collaboration with United Nations Development Programme, UNDP, and in partnership with The Foundation for Resilient Empowerment and Development (FRED), Stars the Best of Nollywood – including but not limited to TONI TONES, KATE HENSHAW, FEMI JACOBS, DANIEL ETIM EFFIONG, CHIDI MOKEME  and BIMBO AKINTOLA. Others in the Blockbuster Film are DEBBY FELIX and EKAMMA ETIM-INYANG.

The Film featured experienced and professional heavyweights in Nollywood industry whose pedigree found expression everywhere on the FILM  landscape. They are: ABIODUN ADEBAYO, Editor; BIODUN STEPHEN, Director; and EMEM ISONG MISODI, Producer. JOY UDUAK JOHNSON handled the Costume, SAAODIQ OYEBAMI managed the Sound, while LADIPO ABIOLA was the Director of Photography.

In addition, the Film comes with a bumper Limited 8 Edition, with a rich cast of celebrity performers, comprising:  Jane – MaryLazarus; Jane’s Boyfriend – Pere Ebi; CEO – Femi Branch; Bimbo Akintola – Senator’s wife and top business executive; and Lord Frank – Senator. (Download the official trailer here).

The Trailer highlights critical and important aspects of the movie that will keep Nigerians on edge, agitate their mind, and invoke important lessons about the GBV issue in our society. It showed moments of reflection, sober mood, anger, and scenes that will stimulate unwavering resolution to join hands in the fight against the scourge.

In his opening address at the trailer reveal, the Deputy Resident Representative, UNDP, Mr. Blessed Chimrimuta said that the collaboration of the EU-UN, UNDP, and FRED with the Spotlight Initiative aligns seamlessly with the plans of the government of Nigeria and the EU-UN Gender Action Points. “This intervention” he said, “seeks to challenge and reshape prevailing gender norms not only in Nigeria but beyond.” He admonished the participants at the event to reflect on the significance of the transformative journey we are embarking on. He reminded the audience that “Deafening Silence is not just a movie for entertainment,” but according to him, “It is a movie in search to deliver a compelling and thought-provoking moments that will serve as a catalyst for sparking wider conversation around gender inequality, and gender violence, against women.”

The UN Resident Coordinator in Nigeria, Mattias Schmale, in his own remark expressed satisfaction for being part of the intervention against GBV, which is a priority for his organisation. He emphasised the need to find better ways of communicating and engaging the people on the issue of gender-based violence. He said that there is need to produce more films based on tackling the issues of human rights – which is relevant today as it was seventy five years ago. He reiterated that human rights of vulnerable people including women and children, particularly girls, should be protected.

The Deputy Head of Mission, EU Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Zissimos Vergos, emphasized that gender based violence is a global problem. He said that there is evidence to show that one in every three women out there is subjected to physical, sexual, or any other form of violence, in their lifetime. He affirmed that in the 21st century gender inequality remains among the key drivers of poverty and this undermines cohesion and balance in our society.

The Director General of the National Broadcasting Commission, Mr. Charles Ebuebe commended Spotlight Initiative and the partners and collaborators who joined forces to conceive and work on this project. He promised to stand behind the partners on the project and pledged to give all the necessary support within his jurisdiction. He frowned at a situation where people who suffer gender-based violence shy away from speaking up against abuse because of sociocultural reasons. He also talked about the challenges of none or ineffective laws to tackle the problem frontally.

In her overview of the Film “Deafening Silence” Onyinye Belinda Ndubuisi, UNDP Gender and Human Rights Lead, said that “The title “Deafening Silence” has been carefully chosen to encapsulate the profound paradox inherent in the issues, the movie and television series aim to address: Gender Equality, Gender Empowerment, and Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV).” She further stated that this film is to showcase to the world the transformative result chain Intervention Nigeria is capable of doing.

“ Anchoring on the UNDP Human Development Report on Gender and Social Norms, there is need to showcase what we are doing global. We know that there are different types of gender-based violence, and we also understand that to change norms requires time – so it is not an overnight venture. This is why we are starting with a 5-Year plan,  and also to call on all our partners to come together for collaboration rather than fragmenting our efforts.” She said that Deafening Silence is an exciting and captivating Drama project that aims to deliver an immersive and compelling cinematic experience to its audience. The project story revolves around spotlighting the issues, challenges, and victories surrounding survivors of Gender-Based Violence (GBV) and spotlighting all factors relating to GBV.

According to Onyinye, the film is weaved “Through a carefully crafted narrative and dynamic characters, as the project intends to engage viewers emotionally and intellectually, leaving a lasting impact. The aim, she said, is to capture the imagination and attention of the target audience, providing an enthralling and memorable viewing experience, while spotlighting the vices surrounding GBV.” She added that, “The project is committed to achieving a high level of artistic quality, utilizing innovative storytelling techniques, exceptional cinematography, and engaging performances.”

Fielding questions from reporters at the event, she said that, “The project is a splendid pointer to a public investment through meaningful storytelling that showcases various instances of abuse and injustice, such as rape, human trafficking, forced surrogacy, blackmail, and marital abandonment. It highlights the role of agencies in helping victims seek justice and support.”

The movie which tells the horrible story of the social impact of GBV and its effect on people, families, and society in general, will be available in cinemas and selected TV stations as a series. The main aim is to inform, educate, and curb the issue of Gender-Based Violence in Nigeria.

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